Christians You Should Know: J.C. Ryle September 27, 2023

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And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: – Hebrews 10:24

A Snapshot of the Life of John Charles Ryle:

Born: May 10, 1816 – Macclesfield, England
Died: June 10, 1900 – Liverpool, England

Low Church Anglican bishop of Liverpool, 1880-1900. Ryle was converted (1837), then spiritually awakened (1838), upon hearing Ephesians 2 read. He began preaching in Exbury, and then went to Winchester. He also ministered at Helmingham (1844-61), then at Stradbroke (1861-69). He lost [two] wives, 1847 and 1860, both after only two years of marriage. Later in Liver-pool, he met his third wife. He was a prominent evangelical and wrote many tracts and pamphlets on doctrine and books on practical subjects (2 million distributed), including Expository Ihoughts on Gospels (7 vols.). He built 90 places of worship, staffed them with 136 ministers, and enthusiastically backed the Moody/Sankey meetings of 1883. His works range from Biographical Lectures (1854) to Light from Old Times (1891).  – (Excerpt taken from the Reese Chronological Encyclopedia of Christian Biographies. Used by permission.)

A Spiritual Application for Our Lives:

J.C. Ryle was a man of the Word. He faithfully taught and preached the Word for several decades. His simple teaching and sage advice continue to strengthen and guide many. One point that Ryle strongly emphasized is that all people have a place in God’s work. All of life must be yielded to God. In his excellent book, “Advice to Young Men,” Ryle instructed that: 

“Old or young, it doesn’t matter; all have a race to run, a battle to fight, a heart to humble, a world to overcome, a body to keep under control, a devil to resist; and we may very well say, Who is sufficient for these things? But still, every age and condition has its own peculiar snares and temptations, and it is well to know them. He that is forewarned is forearmed.”

And this is the work Ryle so zealously gave himself to – forewarning believers of that which would hinder them (Galatians 5:7). Today, many people forget that there is a spiritual war raging all around them. More still neglect to engage in that spiritual battle. Do not neglect the battle. Stay in the fight. Remember, “…greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world” (1 John. 4:4). However, let us not be ignorant of Satan’s devices (2 Corinthians 2:11). Ryle issued this powerful admonition:

“Young men, beware of being taken by his snares. He will try to throw dust in your eyes and prevent you seeing anything in its true colors. He would eagerly make you think that evil is good, and good is evil. He will paint, cover with gold, and dress up sin, in order to make you fall in love with it. He will deform, and misrepresent, and fabricate true Christianity, in order to make you take a dislike to it. He will exalt the pleasures of wickedness – but he will hide from you the sting… He will promise you everything, as he did to Christ, if you will only serve him. He will even help you to wear a form of Christianity, if you will only neglect the power. He will tell you at the beginning of your lives, it is too soon to serve God – he will tell you at the end, it is too late. Oh, do not be deceived!”

The battle is on, and we must have the Sword of God’s Word and the enabling of God’s Spirit to discern what is true and what is false. Thankfully, God has also given us faithful men who teach, preach, warn, counsel, and guide us through treacherous waters; J.C. Ryle was one such man. However, Ryle himself was deeply influenced by the writings of John Bunyan and the preaching of D.L. Moody. All wisdom ultimately comes from God. 

Allow the life of J.C. Ryle to stir you forward in your walk with God. Allow his testimony to encourage you to be faithful. Never forget the tremendous responsibility of influence – wield it carefully. Let us warn those behind us of the dangers ahead – “He that is forewarned is forearmed.” J.C. Ryle sought to both warn and challenge both his and the next generation – let us do likewise! 

A Suggestion for Further Reading…

Thoughts for Young Men – J.C. Ryle,

J.C. Ryle: Prepared to Stand AloneIain H. Murray; Banner of Truth (2016)

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